Lisa DiFranza was raised in New York City, in a family of artists. She remembers watching her dad sketch characters and scenes in their neighborhood, attending live theater, and her parents encouraging her to create her own artistic expressions. Her love of both visual and performing arts led her to pursue a career as a professional theater director and educator. Painting, for years, was her avocation.
Highlights of Lisa's theater and education work include serving as Artistic Director of The Children’s Theater of Maine, Founding Director of The Arts Academy in Portland, Maine, working on the production faculty of the Juilliard School Drama Division in New York, and directing theater productions in Maine, Iowa, Chicago, and New York. She has taught students at University of New England, Andover Theological School, and was a full time faculty member at Columbia College Chicago for eight years. While in Chicago Lisa created The Living News Project, a multi-year journalistic theater collaboration between students, artists, and the staff and residents at an Uptown homeless shelter, sparking community dialogue about homelessness in the city. Lisa has served as a consultant, helping to guide nonprofit organizations through transitions, and led workshops in the performing and visual arts for people of all ages.
In 2017, Lisa joined the opening team at Art Ovation Hotel in Sarasota, as the founding Cultural Curator. Eager to meet the challenge of weaving visual, media and performing arts into a commercial public setting, she devised and created a robust and diverse arts program. Lisa managed large exhibitions, invited performance and media artists to showcase their work, led workshops, and launched an active guest artist program. For over two years, she hosted artists every week in the hotel’s working lobby studio.
In March 2020, when the Covid-19 health crisis forced a lockdown, Lisa cracked open a neglected set of gouache paints and got to work in her kitchen “studio”. The 365 “dailies” she created during the first year of the pandemic became a diary, reflecting internal thoughts and dreams, daily surroundings, the strange isolation that marked the year, and the larger political landscape.
Lisa’s recent solo shows include: Art Ovation Studio Gallery, Mara Studio + Art Gallery, Cottonmouth Southern Soul Food Kitchen, Baobab Gallery, and a current solo show of paintings and prints at Saks Fifth Avenue, at UTC Mall, Sarasota. Her work has been seen in group shows at ArtCenter Manatee, Art Center Sarasota, Mara Gallery, and Ad Hoc Collective. Her paintings can be found in private collections throughout the United States.
Lisa works at Realize Bradenton and in her painting studio at Creative Liberties in Sarasota. She and her partner live and create in downtown Bradenton, FL.